09 August 2011

The 7th time I saw U2…

…we got in line at 8:40am and were 411th in line. Really, we could have been there earlier, but the tradeoff for sleeping longer is being further from the stage, and we were aware of that. It was already an improvement from our first GA experience in which we got in line at noon and were 600+ in line. This time I could indulge my “first in line” fantasy and it didn’t seem so crazy.

Our time in line started, as I mentioned, before 9am and went until 5:30pm when they let us into the SkyDome. In those hours, we read, played cards, played a dice game, baked in and complained about the sun, purchased U2 merch, talked with fellow line-upers, and discussed dream set-lists and placed bets on which obscure or old song they were going to surprise us with. In hindsight, the time went quickly. The longest part of the day was when the clouds cleared and we had the full force of July in downtown Toronto beating on us. Eventually the sun moved behind the dome and we were saved.

Behind us in line was a recently married woman from Charleston, whose honeymoon was following U2 around for most of the summer and going to every show she could. With her best friend. He husband was back home, apparently. Or maybe off on his own honeymoon. She mentioned she got married to Hallelujah (Here she comes). She’s one of those fans who is a whole other level of obsessed than I am. I don’t own any iron-on U2 jean jacket back-patches, which I think should be the benchmark for separating the sane fans from the fans they make scary movies about. Or, at least, from the fans who aren’t stuck in the 80s or in possession of motorcycles. I mean, I don’t think she wore the jean jacket ironically. This woman also had the nerve to visibly disapprove of my mom’s favourite song. That’s just impolite. When you don’t agree with someone else’s favourite song, you just rip them apart in your head and out loud you say, “Oh, yeah. That song Bono did with Rhianna was a classic.” Mom’s favourite song is New York off All That You Can’t Leave Behind, and she didn’t like it initially, but it took on new meaning for her after 9/11 and she liked how U2 used it as a tribute song in the aftermath of the attacks.

So, after the mad dash into SkyDome and the sprinting toward the stage to an accapella  chorus of “Don’t Run!” from security, we found ourselves in the inner circle. We were on what would be Bono’s left when he got on stage in 4 hours. The last time we were in the inner circle we were to Bono’s right and had a good view of Bono and Edge. This time we would have a good view of Bono and Adam. Larry, the drummer, was hard to see from our position. We were second in row from the stage. The people in front of us, the ones right next to the stage, got in line at 4am. One girl in front of us was there alone. I was surprised by the number of people in the inner circle who were there alone. Waiting in line for 12 hours is bad enough, but to do it without someone to talk to and save your place in line when you go for food or to the bathroom has to be hard. She wasn’t very talkative.

Next to that girl was a guy with a fairly large group. He was also dressed up: sparkly silver pants and a discoball hardhat. Around his neck was an Ontario license plate reading “U2BROTHR.” He is, we would find out, something of a local celebrity among the Toronto U2-fan community. One person actually came up to him in the circle and said “U2brothr! I saw you from over there and just had to come over and meet you!”  Accompanying U2brothr at the show was a guy wearing a “Larry Mullen Band” tshirt, a guy wearing a “Finally my first U2 concert” t-shirt (on the back: “I’m with U2BROTHR”), and a guy who looked like Bono ca. 1996. There were all members of a U2 Facebook group and frequented U2 cover band shows, of which the 1996 Bono was the front man. U2brothr was pretty cool. He’s met Bono a few times and says the secret is “having no shame.” He also quite awesomely helped me defend my friends spot on the floor when she went to the bathroom during the opening act. Some chick flew into the spot, it was like she dropped from the sky: I have no idea where she came from. He told her to leave. He was more imposing than me, so she listened to him.

(I was going to put links to all the Youtube vidoes from that show, but this awesome person has a pretty comprehensive collection of good quality videos from that night, so check them out. All my pictures are here).

The last two shows we saw on this tour, they opened with Breathe from the most recent album (recent as in 2009). I didn’t expect Breathe again, but I did not expect what they opened with. I was expecting at least a song from the recent album, and when the music started it took me longer than it should have to identify the song because I wasn’t expecting a 20 year old song. They opened with Even Better Than The Real Thing and proceeded to play 3 other Achtung Baby songs. It was like being at a ZooTV show (one of my life’s great regrets that I didn’t “discover” U2 until after the ZooTV tour). The next surprise was perhaps one of the best versions of Stay I’ve heard live. Stay is off Zooropa, the follow-up to Achtung Baby. Zooropa is not widely loved among U2 fans, but for the most part I like it. It does contain my least favourite U2 song ever (Some Days Are Better Than Others), but it also has the awesome Wanderer with Johnny Cash, and First Time, and Stay, and Numb. I’m kind of getting off topic...  

I don’t know when it happened exactly, but sometime between Stay and the next surprise-song (4 songs later) I had what I now call one of my “episodes.” I really don’t know why. I wasn’t giving blood or doing yoga. I think it was a combination of the heat, dehydration, standing up for hours on end, not eating much, and jumping up and down and waving my hands in the air non-stop. So, I spent the second half of the concert trying to not pass out. It’s about as crappy as it sounds. At one point (I think it was after Sunday Bloody Sunday) I asked a stranger if I could have some of her water. That, and the protein bar and nuts I’d snuck in, helped somewhat. I lasted the show, didn’t pass out, and for the most part was able to enjoy it.

I was kneeling on the ground digging in my bag for food when the next surprise song came on, and it was Zooropa – the title song from the album. Zooropa! That was totally on the list of songs I never expected to hear live. I’m glad I was conscious enough to enjoy it. They also played a tiny bit of Discotheque – which I don’t hate as much as I used to.

The next surprise came at the beginning of the second encore. This is where Bono wears his laser jacket and has the pendulum microphone that he swings around on. The last shows I saw, they started the second encore with Ultraviolet, also from AB. This time they didn’t, they played another song I never thought I’d hear live: Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me – from the Batman Forever soundtrack. To me, this was the biggest surprise. Just the day before, on the drive to Toronto, I’d held my BFF’s copy of the single and said wistfully “I want them to play HMTMKMKM” AND THEY DID. Mind you, such wishful thinking didn’t work on all the other songs I said that about, but it did in this case. So awesome. The presyncope was worth it to hear Bono say “Oh, Lordy.” They ended the encore with an emotional version of Moment of Surrender that was so good, it made me like the song more.

Then it was over. And we took a cab back to our hotel, where I drank lots of water and tried to assure my mother that I was fine. It was hard to convince her that it wouldn’t happen again at the next show we were going to in a few weeks. And I won’t tell you if it did or not, so you’ll have to read all about that concert too! Ha!

Full Set List:

Even Better Than The Real Thing
The Fly
Mysterious Ways
Until The End Of The World
I Will Follow
Get On Your Boots
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
Stay (Faraway, So Close!)
Beautiful Day
Pride (In The Name Of Love)
Miss Sarajevo
City Of Blinding Lights
I'll Go Crazy / Discotheque
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Walk On

Encore 1
Where The Streets Have No Name

Encore 2
Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill MeWith Or Without You
Moment Of Surrender

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